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Our Australian Cousins
Chapter XXII


Fresh-water and fly-fishing in Australia—-"Varieties—Native modes of fishing—The fresh-water tortoise—Spearing fish—The fish of the Western waters—The Platypus—The fresh-water eel—Perch and herring—Fly-fishing on the Hunter—Fishing notes by Bob— Shooting—Sport on the Lachlan—"Varieties, of wild fowl— Pigeons—Character of the country—Incidents of duck-shooting— Deterioration of the sport—Pot-shooting—Necessity for conservation—Snipe in Hexham Swamps—Anecdotes—The wood-duck—Its cunning and sagacity—The Australian crow—Anecdotes—The shrike or butcher bird—Sparrow hawk—Magpie— Future prospects of sport—The Acclimatization Society—The Animals Protection Act.

Not only in the fecund lap of the ocean, however, may the disciples of Walton and Cotton find opportunity for the exercise of. their pleasurable pastime. The fishing in the Australian rivers, even as they are at present, is not to be derided. All contain fish of various sorts, principally the far-famed • Australian fresh-water cod (Oligorus macquariensis), better known, perhaps, as the Murray Cod, Perch (Therapon) of several species, herrings (Clupea novce-hollandia}), freshwater mullet (Mugil dobula), Gudgeon, a small, brown cod, about six or seven inches long (there are several kinds of cod), and also two kinds of freshwater tortoises, one of which hath a most horrible, "ancient and fish-like smell," and may be caught often at great distances from the river's brink.

The natives are very expert fishermen, and their methods of capturing fish have a most singular resemblance to many of the modes adopted by the Mullahs or fishermen of Behar, with which I am so well acquainted, and which I have described at length in my "Sport and Work on the Nepaul Frontier." Indeed, the points of analogy are so striking as to suggest curious ethnological problems. Bara Mundi (osteoglossum Leitchardti), for instance, in the native phraseology means a big fish. The Hindoo equivalent for the same is Bara Muchlee. However, into the vexed question of the origin of the Australian aborigines I have not space to enter at present. Perhaps some enthusiastic and leisured ethnologist may follow up the bare suggestion here given.

The modes of fishing pursued by the natives are sufficiently interesting to merit a few words. Sir T. L. Mitchell, in his narrative of an expedition to explore the course of the Darling River in 1835, gives some very interesting bits of description. I extract the following:—

"These tribes, inhabiting the banks of the Darling, may be considered ichthyophagi in the strictest sense, and their mode of fishing was really an interesting sight. There was an unusually deep and broad reach of the river opposite to our camp, and it appeared that they fished daily in different portions of it, in the . following manner. The king stood erect in his bark canoe, while nine young men, with short spears, went up the river, and as many down, until, at a signal from him, all dived into it, and returned towards him, alternately swimming and diving; transfixing the fish under water, and throwing them on the bank. Others on the river brink speared the fish when thus enclosed, as they appeared among the weeds, in which small openings were purposely made that they might see them. In this manner they killed, with astonishing despatch, some enormous cod-perch.....After a short time the young men in the water were relieved by an equal number; and those which came out shivering, the weather being very cold, warmed themselves in the centre of a circular fire, kept up by the gins on the bank. The death of the fish, in their practised hands, was almost instantaneous, and seemed caused by merely holding them by the tail, with the gills immersed " (Chap. vi.).

He also, in his expedition in search of the "Kindur" (Darling) in 1831, mentions the native weirs for catching fish, formed of boughs on the water-holes, near the Bogan. He describes the gins as fishing. " A moveable dam of long, twisted, dry grass, through which only water can pass, is pushed from one end of the pond to the other," thus securing all the fish in it. He describes their nets as being made of a kind of flax, and knotted like the English mesh; he also mentions having seen a water-hole poisoned by eucalyptus boughs, thrown into it for the purpose of catching fish. I have seen this done on the Hunter when it had shrunk to water-holes, but the poison there used was a graceful plant growing near the water, with bright green leaves, a reddish stem, and a long, drooping spray of small whitish flowers; it was, I fancy, a species of pepper plant, the leaves, &c., having a hot and peppery taste, and was very severe when applied to the eyes or other tender parts. The method was to throw quantities into the hole; the effect was to sicken the fish, and bring them to the top of the water, when they might be captured, or knocked ashore with a long stick. I have also seen fish captured in a similar manner by muddying the water-hole. Captain Sturt, the discoverer of the Darling, confirms Mitchell's accounts. I remember being told—I forget my informant—that he had seen the blacks diving empty-handed into the deep holes, and returning with eels &c., fast between their teeth; and I don't doubt his statement.

As to the tortoise, my friend Bob, in a characteristic epistle, writes:—

"The tortoises are not fish, but as they are a nuisance to the fisherman they deserve notice. With their horny bills they nibble and chew at the bait till they either destroy or get it off. It is not easy to hook them, and it is also difficult to get them to acquiesce in their liability to death—I've seen one with his head cut off bolt down the river bank, and swim away—and when caught and killed they do not present an inviting enough appearance to tempt any one but a black fellow to make food of them. I will endeavour to describe the capture of one by a native. The tortoises like the sun and air, and may often be seen, ten or more, sunning themselves on logs in and above the water, or floating in the stream with only their heads out of water, in either case diving on the slightest alarm. My dark friend, hight Mattambong, King of Taingerrin, with whom I had been fishing and shooting all day, remarked, as he pointed to a tortoise floating in deep water, 'Mine been eat that fellow turkle.' He stripped himself, and glided into the water, and floated rather than swam, with just his head visible, out to mid-stream, down which he floated till about ten yards behind the 'turkle,' when he vanished like a shadow; the ' turkle' also disappeared in a hurried manner—but only for H instant*for the old native rose again almost immediately, with his victim fast in both hands. Biting its head to kill it, he threw it ashore, and following leisurely, built his fire, roasted the tortoise in its shell, and polished it off with great gusto, not unmixed with contempt of me, for declining to join him.

"The blacks also capture fish, principally the mullet, by spearing them, the spear being made of grass-tree with four hardwood points fastened on with stringy bark, kurrajong bark, or cooramin bark, and gum, and kept about two or three inches apart by small wedges of wood inserted between them. After spearing a fish they bite the head to kill it. The spears, I've no doubt, may be seen in the Sydney Museum.

"The fish of the Western waters are, so far as I know them, cod, perch, bream, and cat-fish—no eels, although I hear that of late years a species of small lamprey has been caught in the Murray. I am not aware that any of these fish will rise to the fly, but I think the perch would, as to my unscientific eye they seemed to be identical with the Hunter perch. I have only fished in the Murrumbidgee, the Tumut, the Yeven, Yeverd creek, .and a few others of the Murrumbidgee tributaries and in the Lachlan; the bait is similar to that for the Hunter fish—meat, fish, oak-tree grubs, earth-worms, shrimps, &c. The cod, which goes to a great size (I have read of 120 lbs. in the Murray), is a very voracious fish; and I have known more than one occasion, and heard of others, on which a large cod completely swallowed a smaller one, which had been tethered out at night in the river to keep alive and fresh for the morning's breakfast—a necessary precaution of a hot summer's day on the Murrumbidgee.

The largest cod I have seen was 45 lbs., and so fat that it was impossible to eat it; when cooked it seemed to be entirely composed of an oily fat, unpleasant to look at and worse to taste. The smaller sizes, from 3 lbs. to 12 lbs. are the best. The cat-fish is a curious brown fish, with appendages near the gills; but it is so long since I saw them, that I cannot attempt any description of them. The above remarks apply as regards fish and bait to all the northern rivers of the colony which run westerly into the Darling. For this Bob Riley is my authority. The names of the rivers he is acquainted with are—the Peel, the Manilla, best river in the north for perch which run as high as 7 lbs.; the Mooki, a tributary of the Namoi, which contains the largest cod in the northern district; the Gwydyr, or Big river; the Macintyre;' the Severn, or Sovran, one of the best northern rivers for both fishing and shooting; and the Bundara, the head of the Gwydyr. Here, Riley says, the river runs through limestone (another authority swears it is granite), and has worn itself n passage under the stratified rocks, so that you may walk across among strange holes and basins in which any quantity of cods, of about 4 lbs. may be caught."

That strange paradoxical lusus naturce, the Platypus, too, may often be met with in these northern and western rivers. There are many of them, especially in the Macdonald River. I have myself shot them in Queensland, although I had been told that owing to their powers of rapid diving it was impossible to shoot them. It has a most beautiful fur, and they are often speared by the blacks.

Capital fishing may be had in the upper reaches of the Hunter, and I doubt not, if the experiment were tried, many valuable species might be here acclimatized successfully, and glorious sport would be the result. Not having fished much in these remoter regions, I cannot do better than again refer the reader to my friend's note-book. Referring seriatim to the watery inhabitants of the Hunter river, he writes me as follows : —

"The freshwater eel when not too fat is a very fine eating fish, and may be taken with a hand-line in the evening or after dark, baiting as follows: fish-bait, frogs, meat, bird's entrails, or a large white grub which lives in colonies in the river oaks, and which may be discovered by the refuse which they eject from their holes. A sharp tomahawk and willing arm will soon extract them. If the blacks are to be believed, they make very good human food. I have known the eels go as high as 13 lbs. and 15 lbs. weight, but those would be coarse eating, and I would recommend 6 lbs. and under as the eel best calculated to please the palate. They can pull pretty strongly, especially if they can twist themselves round any foreign matter, as I once found when pulling up what seemed to me an eel not much smaller than the great world serpent, and which when landed proved to be a three-pounder knotted round a sunken nine-foot rail which had been carried into the hole in flood time. Perch may be taken with much the same bait as eels, adding thereto crickets, mole and black, the larger grasshoppers and locusts, and the large dragon-flies so numerous along the river. These latter, though very shy and swift, may be readily captured in the early morning before the dew dries, as they cannot fly till the sun takes the limp out of their wings. The herring may also be caught in great numbers with bait, such as the smaller grasshoppers, and almost any small insect; I have caught them with the common house-fly. Both these fish (perch and herring) afford far better sport to the true fisherman, viz., he who uses the artificial fly."

With regard to that most important choice, the best killing and most suitable fly, I have been favoured with a communication from a keen old sportsman and genial man, Dr. Glennie.

"For perch flies," he says, "they should be made on a good-sized hook. The* one I have generally found the most killing, is that made with a peacock hurl for the body, red hackle, and for the wings turkey, rather dark, and wood duck combined. I sometimes find a white fly with yellow worsted for body answer well when it is getting about dusk. The best time for catching perch is from sundown to dark, or early in the morning before sunrise. They may be taken all day long in close dry weather, especially if the wind is in the west. The last few years have not been good for fishing; whether it is that the river is more fished than formerly, and has also been very much netted, or that the fish are not so plentiful as of yore, I cannot say. A few years ago, I and two other gentlemen caught 52 lb. one afternoon, and I have landed sixteen within an hour, besides losing as many more. Besides perch, we have the herring, which occasionally affords good sport of an evening, with a small fly made with a red hackle; but even these are not now to be caught so readily as formerly. I have caught eight dozen within an hour, but that was some years ago."

To continue Bob's notes :—

"The hook for perch should be the salmon hook. They have large mouths. The fly should be plain and quiet, the simpler the better, for the perch will not rise to a gaudy fly. A very good fly may be made as follows— body red, green, yellow, or brown worsted; liackle from a cock's neck; and for wings turkey, guinea fowl, wood duck, or any quiet feather. The fly should not have a tail, nor should the wings project beyond the bend of the hook, or the fish may only rip them and miss the hook. The perch is a cunning fellow, and when hooked always goes for the weed beds or sunken logs, and if he gets'there you may say farewell to your fish and hook. I remember, when I was a youngster, a big brute that always beat me. He had his. haunt near a big log, hollow, splintery, waterlogged, and of huge proportions. Many a time I hooked him, using a fat grasshopper for bait; but he was never far from his log, and he always made his rush for it, and whether he got under, or round, or into it, I could never find out, for he invariably escaped and took my hook with him. He is a bold-biting fish, whether at bait or fly, and, given favourable conditions of wind and water, you may mostly depend on his rising to an after-cast if he misses you the first time. In fact, I have known a perch pursue the fly, and make several dashes at it and finally take it. With bait he always makes a bold dash, and I have more than once had to strip and swim for my rod, which I had laid on the bank beside me whilst using a lighter one for herrings. With the fly I have caught two at a cast, and might very likely have had a chance for three, had I used that number of flies.

"The perch may be taken all through the year, though, of course, the best months are the summer months, especially the latter part of the summer— March and April, to wit. The best wind is west (vide Dr. G-'s letter). They will hardly ever rise in a southerly wind. The weight runs up to 6lbs, or 7bs., though that is exceptional, the general weight being from lib. to 4lbs. I once read in a Field English newspaper an account of some fly-fishing in the Snowy River, in which the writer described very well a long fight with a perch, which, when landed, weighed 12 J lbs. This is by far the largest perch I ever heard or read of—a monstrum horrendum. The writer also said he caught a 30 lb. cod fish with bait. This may be, but I cannot understand a cod fish being caught in an eastern river. The rule is, no cod (Murray cod) in the eastern rivers, and no eels in the western rivers. I have fished in the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan and some of their tributaries, and never caught, or heard of an eel being caught, in them or in the Murray, and this is the only instance I have heard of cod being caught in an eastern river. Some man who loved his country may have introduced them into the Snowy; his memory ought to be perpetuated.

"The herring, like the perch, despises gaudy flies, and, having good taste, prefers something quiet and unpretentious. The little grey-trout flies for bright waters suit them very well, and sometimes a white fly is a successful killer. I have seen as many as three caught at a cast on several occasions. I have taken in great numbers when a youngster, baiting with small grasshoppers, and have many times landed three at a shot. When throwing out, I have noticed several rise at each bait, and as many at the quill-float as it touched the water. I don't know what they weigh, and should not like to commit myself to any length. They are, however, smaller than the red herring.

"The mullet may be caught with dough, plain, or mixed with sundry compounds, such as are described in "Stonehenge." I have heard of a good haul being made in the early morning, the place having been well ground-baited or burleyed the night before."

On the whole, I think I have said enough in these rather rambling notes to vindicate the character of our colony for piscatorial sport; and, now that renewed attention is being given to an organized and methodical acclimatization of trout, salmon, and other fishes, we bid fair at no far-distant date to place before the traveller attractions in the shape of good fishing that may tend to bring the gentle angling art more into fashion, and remove the reproach of having nought to offer but tenantless rivers.

So far as shooting is concerned, Australia offers a much wider choice, both of winged and furred game, than is popularly supposed. We cannot, indeed, compete as yet with India or Africa, or even the glorious heathery moors and hills of Auld Caledonia; but a very varied bag may be made by the enthusiastic sportsman out here, and the hospitality of the dwellers in the bush is proverbial.

I am sure many of my Anglo-Indian friends, who may meditate a retirement to Antipodean rest and ease, after a toilsome and not altogether profitless struggle with the pagoda-tree, will be agreeably surprised to hear of such a diversity of game, and such scope for the exercise of the killing mania, for which the dwellers in the east are famous.

"The best sport I ever had with the gun," writes one friend, "was on the Lachlan—not the river itself, but on its lagoons, its creeks and their lagoons, in the Forbes and Grenfell districts. The game was numerous and various. Ducks of many sorts j pigeons, both bronzewings and "squatters"—the latter so called from its unwillingness to take to flight when disturbed, and its habit of squatting low on the ground or a limb of a tree when hiding from the foe —snipe, quail, landrail, water-hens, &c. Our bags used to be remarkably good, as will be shown by a few instances here given. On a large lagoon on the Boyd Greek, some miles from Forbes, we have bagged for three guns seventy-seven black ducks. The lagoon was of great extent, and by dispersing our forces we kept the ducks flying from one point to another, much in the same way as jheel-shooting in India. Our bag might have been much larger, had we not gone in for black ducks only, allowing all other sorts to pass free. On another occasion, for an afternoon's shooting, we bagged with three guns thirty-six ducks, mixed sorts^ on a lagoon about four miles from Binda, on the Lachlan, called Gunnigal Trigger. This was formed by the damming back of a small creek, which thereupon overflowed into a little plain alongside, thus forming the lagoon, about a mile across each way. The timber round the edges afforded capital cover. On the Lachlan, at Merriganowrie, a party from Forbes and Grenfell, numbering four or five guns, bagged over 120 brace of bronzewing in two days. On theBunda-burra station plains, under Mount Tallabung, three guns in one day bagged over sixty brace of quail; and1 on the Bundaburra and Ooma, or Boyd, creeks, I have enjoyed remarkably good shooting. In fact, our bags used to be so uniformly good that we hardly ever troubled to keep records of them. On the Bogolong, Emu, and Garagaball Creeks, all running to the Bland, thence to the Lachlan, we used also to get grand sport. Most of these creeks have peculiar features. Where they run through the bush, their appearance is that of ordinary bush-creek—steepish but low banks, narrow beds, with occasional water-holes of no great extent; but when they reach the plain country they alter very much. In some places they widen out into shallow but extensive swamps, full of grass and small rushes, affording grand snipe-shooting, and leaving, as the summer dries them up, a series of small water-holes, round the edges of which the snipe do congregate, though you may sometimes, on reaching one, flush, not snipe, but thousands of budtharygars, which rise in a great green cloud, with a mighty chorus of twittering. Further on you arrive suddenly at water-holes of more or less extent, some of them of splendid dimensions, extending for several miles,"of good width, and in some instances as deep as twenty or twenty-five feet, surrounded by large river gums. Then suddenly the creek disappears, and nothing meets the eye but the level plain, the only indication of a flow of water having passed being the lie of the grass. After travelling some distance, you again drop suddenly on to a similar hole; and so on. These holes seemed to be merely depressions in the surface of the plains over which the creeks run. In them we occasionally shot some specimens of a beautiful crested grebe, and a large sort of savage-eyed darter. On one shallow lagoon on Bundaburra plains one of our party shot a white teal. The bird was carefully skinned, and the skin treated with arsenical soap, preparatory to stuffing, when a never-to-be-sufficiently-execrated cat stole and ate it. On the Bland plains, too, may be seen the brawlgongs, or native companions, waltzing round, dancing quadrilles, and otherwise cutting insane antics. There too may be seen quantities of the nardoo plant and seed, on which Burke and Wills starved. The Australian bustard, or plain turkey, may be shot here. It is a very wary bird. The best way to approach them is on horseback or in a buggy. I have also had good shooting under the Widdn Mountains, of bush-ranging fame. At Wentworth Gully station, on the Bland side of the mountains, we used to get good snipe and duck shooting. Our usual mode of procedure on this and other stations where we were friendly was to drive down twenty or thirty miles, start next morning on horseback, ride several miles to a lagoon, jump off and wade in, and shoot as long as the ducks remained or were not too shy; then off to the next lagoon, and so on through the day; then back to our friend's hospitable habitation—a good supper, smoke, yarn, and bed. Next day ditto. As may be supposed, this sort of game was highly productive of rheumatism, from which our flasks and evening comforts could not save us. On the "Went-worth Gully station was a series of very peculiar water-holes, running for some distance through the bush, and full of ducks. On one occasion I got seven ducks in one, and whilst chasing a wounded bird I almost ran into another water-hole, not twenty yards away, likewise full of ducks. This tameness on the part of the ducks did not last long, however, and after a few more shots all the bush was alive with quacking birds and whistling wings, flashing backwards and forwards in a manner very embarrassing to the tyro. These said holes are very peculiar, and seem almost as if they had been dug out. They are, I believe, begun in slight depressions, where water lies in wet weather, by the cray-fish, and are gradually tramped larger and deeper by cattle. They are called Gilgai holes. On one of our expeditions one of the party shot a duck, which when dissected proved to have had a broken wing, which had re-set—not by the bone growing together in the usual way, but by a cross growth of bone, about the eighth of an inch long. It did not seem to affect the bird's flight in any way. I have also seen a duck shot, on whose wing nature had not been so successful, for from the last joint, where it had been broken, it was apparently withering away, and had not set. I suppose that in time the dead part would have dropped off."

Owing to the indiscriminate slaughter of hundreds of birds that were shot in the very wantonness of destruction, the spot has of late years much deteriorated. It was high time a close season was enforced by legal enactment though even now the Act is so faulty in construction, that it is questionable if it will serve the purpose that the framers had in view.

My friend Bob, speaking of the sport in the olden time, before the advent of Brummagem breechloaders, writes as follows :—

"In 1864-8, when I lived in Adelong, we used to make sporting parties to the Murrumbidgee, which was about sixteen miles away. Many of our fellows did not know or care much about sport, but enjoyed a holiday. Most of them being diggers, our crew was rather more jovial than was consistent with sport. Some of us certainly did" shoot and fish during the day, but the principal part of the night was devoted to cards, songs, and the cheerful bowl. Those of us who were weary with the day's shooting would soon retire to a smaller tent than the general one, go to sleep in spite of our festive friends alongside, and be up in the morning, gun in hand and miles away, long before our mates had got through their first snooze. I soon found it a mistake to remain in company when out on the lagoons; for the boys, whenever signs indicated the proximity of a lagoon, would start off at top speed for first shot, whispering to each other all the while to keep steady, and not make such a row. I used gradually to drop them, and 'gang my ain gate,' and nearly always returned with as heavy a bag as all the rest of them combined.

"Our Murrumbidgee expeditions were always undertaken in the summer, and I used, before starting out shooting, to sink a bottle of beer in a deep and shady hole of the river; and as my mates were all honourable men, I used, on my return in the evening hot and weary, to get a cool drink. A good plan for cooling your beer is to hang up the bottle (with the beer inside) in the wind, and wrap a wet cloth round it. A hot wind will cool it as effectually as a cool one. The last shooting I had was at Gloucester, in June, 1878. Mr. Merewether, his son, myself, and another, bagged 358 head of game, including 286 quail, and sixty-three ducks, the balance being made up with a tallegalla (brush turkey), and a few pigeons (wonga, and blue) and landrail. This was a fortnight's shooting. One of the party returned in a few weeks for a fortnight, and made a nearly similar bag; the cover was very heavy, and we must have lost at least thirty quail. The game there are preserved, the ground being private property, belonging to the A. A. Co. The shooting has in many parts of the country greatly deteriorated—partly owing to the increase in the population, partly to the cheapness of guns, and a good deal to the faulty construction of our late Game Act, which fixed one period for the whole country, regardless *of conditions of climate and varieties of game. I do not intend to discuss the thing, but may remark, that during open season I have, when shooting in the Lachlan district lagoons, seen many ducks'nests floating about, with from four to eight fresh eggs in them. These nests were circular rafts of wood, with a small hollow in the centre in which the eggs were deposited, and covered over with a thin layer of weed. I noticed that the eggs were always warm; I can't say whether this was owing to the bird having just left them, or whether the weed may not have generated some heat— some scientific searcher may find out; I was too busy taking life to spare time in inquiries as to how it was assisted into the world. I fancy, too, that the open season commencing on a general holiday had somewhat to do with the decrease in the game, in that lots of fellows, who never before dreamed of shooting, having the fact before them, that they could go shooting on the 1st, a holiday, and thinking it would be a good way of passing that holiday, marched forth on the warpath ; and the unhappy birds being rendered tame, and careless of their greatest enemy, by several months' rest, fell easy victims to the multitudinous array of cockney sportsmen who then sallied forth a shooting. The destruction of cover has also a good deal to do with the disappearance of the game ; places that I have seen swarming with quail, grass being nearly waist high, are now destitute alike of quail and grass, overstocking being the cause of this; the clearing off of the scrubs and timber in the more settled districts may also have something to do with the disappearance of pigeons, &c.

"The Hexham swamps, near Newcastle, used to be grand shooting-grounds; but their day has gone by for ever, or at least so long as Newcastle remains a mining town. All the miners have guns, and they shoot at everything, feathered or furred, from the tame pigeon to the smallest tomtit. Their vagaries are those of an uncivilized and brutish race; they steal what they can lift, and smash what they can't; one of their latest movements was to steal "convey," the wise it call) most of the nuts from the bolts in the railway bridge over Ironbark Creek, to be used as sinkers for fishing; some of said nuts weigh half a pound. I have heard of 120 snipe, or 120 couple of snipe, being shot in Hexham swamps in a day, in the good old times! ancient snipe shooting! "Once upon a time " (proper way to commence a story) two sportsmen were shooting in Hexham swamps; No. 1 was very deaf, No. 2 was very large and fat; No. 1 had crossed a fence; No. 2 in climbing the fence gave a wheeze or grunt, whereupon No. 1 slewed round, and deposited a charge of No. 8 in that part of his fat friend's person called/1 know not why, 'the seat of honour;' No. 2, howling with anguish, talked of instantly doing to No. 1 as he had been done by, and was with difficulty induced to see things in a proper light by No. l's repeated assurance, ' Don't shoot, Johnny; for God's sake don't shoot. I thought it was a snipe.; 'pon my soul I did!' He had, however, to assist his wounded friend home, who forthwith retired into the bosom of his family, to undergo the necessary operation of extraction, at the points of pen-knives, scissor-blades, needles, and sich. The game when much shot at develope great wisdom and cunning, perhaps the wisest of them being the wood-duck, which by the way is a goose. The sportsman may be pursuing a flock of them along a creek; he has marked them down at a favourite water-hole; he knows exactly the position they occupy, and what cover lie can get,-and liow best to utilize it. He marches along calculating the result of a double-barrel among them, and congratulating himself on the prospect of a heavy bag—when suddenly, while he is still a quarter or half a mile from them without following the windings of the creek, he will hear high overhead their peculiarly nasal cry, Quah-oo ! and from the topmost limbs of one of the huge gum-trees which grow alongside the creek will fly, whilst still just out of range, a pair of sentries, who will fly down to the flock, and put them on the qiri-vive. He may thus start three or four pair of sentries, which will be posted 100 or 200 yards apart, and which just before he gets within range will be off and away with their mocking laugh Quah-oo ! When the sentries draw in, the flock will leave the water, and get out on the bank well away from cover; and as the out-generalled sportsman approaches, with his finger on the trigger, his heart full of bitterness, and his mouth full of maledictions, they will rise with an insulting chorus of Quah-oo ! and seek fresh water-holes, and pastures netv. But the wisest of our Australian birds is the crow, concerning whom it may not be amiss to give an anecdote or two. Many years ago I remember watching a pair of them circumventing an ancient and savage hen, which, proud I suppose of her fighting capabilities, had indiscreetly taken her chicks rather far. from the refuge of the yard. The two crows sat in a peach-tree, silent and motionless, till they thought her far enough from safety, when suddenly one of them flew down, and deliberately placed himself in front of the hen. She instantly charged, head down and feathers staring; Mr. ' Wargan' calmly hopped back, still retaining hostile attitude, and making war-like demonstrations.

The old hen charged again. Again 'Wargan' retired; again the foolish mother charged, appearing quite proud of her victory, whilst he pursued his original tactics till she was lured a convenient distance from her brood, when Wargan No. 2, who had sat like a statue on his peach-tree perch, seemingly an indifferent spectator of the engagement, now pounced like a thunderbolt among the chicks, grabbed one, and with his mate flew off, leaving the old hen, like Lord Ullin, lamenting. I was so much struck with the sagacity displayed by the pair, that though I had the gun I did not shoot, but let them depart in peace. This was at Glendon, on the Hunter. Near Tumut I once watched a pair of crows adopting the same tactics with a sow and her suckers, the savoury morsel sought for in this instance being the tail of the sucking-pig, which crow No. 2 would get hold of, hang back on to, and twist savagely round, tugging with might and main. He did not get it at the first attempt, nor yet the second; and when the old sow hunted him away, he would always return to the same tail, and fasten on to the same sore place, whilst his victim, shrieking as only pigs, cats, and babies can shriek, hauled him round, till the old mother charged and hunted him; in the meantime, No. 1 crow would fasten on to another piggie; so that the poor old sow was kept dashing wildly from one marauder to the other, till her neck was exhausted, and her piggies tailless. It was too interesting a sight to interrupt; besides the piglings were bound to lose their tails sometime or other, aud why not then, when they would feel the pain less, and were too young to appreciate the indignity.

"Another exceedingly interesting and plucky bird is the shrike or butcher-bird. They are not afraid of any larger bird, but are always ready to attack them ; and apparently for the mere love of slaughter, will often kill smaller birds. Their love for gore is a perfectly pure sentiment unadulterated by any sordid mixed motives. I have seen them sitting solemn and motionless on a garden tree, till some unfortunate wagtail or other small bird came round, when Mr. Butcher would be down on it like a shot, knock a hole through its foolish skull with his strong sharp bill, and leave it lying on the ground dead, and take no further notice of it. A friend once told me that a tenant of his lost a fine flock of geese, all killed by a black and white butcher-bird, a very handsome bird, and not nearly so large as a magpie. In each instance he killed his goose by driving a hole through its neck, just below the head.

"I have seen a sparrow hawk, when after the domestic pigeon, a bird very little smaller than himself, hunt the pigeon high into the air, where it would go on circling round and round, and getting higher and higher, till thoroughly exhausted, the hawk in the meantime returning to his tree, and calmly watching the terrified quarry, and as soon as the pigeon came down, tired and slow, he was after it like an arrow, and it only escaped by flying into the house. I am sorry to say that I shot that hawk; I did not then know the utter valuelessness of the pigeon, and what a domestic nuisance it is. The magpie, too, is a grand bird, a nugget of courage, and when breeding thinks nothing of pecking a hole into the head of a man, or the rump of his horse, should he come too near the nest."

I could spin out similar stories of all the winged denizens of our silent bush, but I fear I am already trespassing too much beyond my allotted space. So far as shooting is concerned, it could undoubtedly be improved. The ignoble breed of potwallopers, in a democratic country like Australia, are of course in the ascendant. Still the Animals Protection Act of 1879 is a step in the right direction, and the new Acclimatization Society will do much to ensure the carrying out of the provisions of the Act, all crude and incomplete as they are, and will eventually, I have no doubt, make of Australia, or New South Wales at least, one of the finest countries for covert shooting in the world.

In the Appendix, I give the Act entire, for the satisfaction of the curious. In clause 2, it will be noticed, the penalty for destroying game may easily be twisted into having reference only for the six months from August 1879 to February 1880. The phraseology is faulty to a degree, and the whole bill requires careful revision with a view to wider and more specific legislation on the subject. Nobody being particularly interested, and there being no government billets, or plunder from the public purse hanging to it, the Bill bears the usual faulty marks of colonial legislation, being slipshod, hasty, imperfectly considered, badly arranged, and likely to be perfunctorily administered.


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